The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 6th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1872
Record 7 of 9

System Number: 09300
Date: [February 1876][1]
Author: JW
Place: Speke Hall
Recipient: Murray Marks[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Victoria and Albert Museum, National Art Library
Call Number: Reserve Collection, Q.4, 5.
Document Type: ALS[3]

Speke Hall[4] -

My dear Marks -

You have several times said you would like to have a small picture of mine - Now here is a chance - There is a Nocturne in blue & silver[5] just finished and at present in the drawing room at my place. 2. Lindsey Houses - Chelsea - If you like to go down there any morning this week the servant will show it to you -

There are three pictures in the room - but the one I mean is on the floor leaning forward - don't touch it or it might [p. 2] fall over - unless they have hung it - It is a sea piece - large - and I think it one my very finest - perhaps the most brilliant - Fishing smacks putting off - at night - Moonlight - I want 300. gs - for it - But go and see it whether you are wishing to buy or not - The other two smaller Nocturnes[6] on the walls are not finished -

Write me a line after you have been -

Yours truly

J A McN. Whistler -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [February 1876?]
Dated by references to Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Bognor (YMSM 100) which was described by W. M. Rossetti on 19 February 1876 as being 'lately completed' (see below).

2.  Murray Marks
Murray Marks (1840-1918), dealer in oriental art [more]. From 1875 his shop at 395 Oxford Street was a focus for oriental enthusiasts (see M.591-592).

3.  ALS
The original letter is bound into a copy of Williamson, George Charles, Murray Marks and his Friends, London and New York, 1919, facing p. 48 (V&A Reserve Collection: Q. 4).

4.  Speke Hall
The Liverpool home of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more]. Leyland's embossed monogram, 'FRL', appears on the sheet, after the words 'Now here' in the first paragraph.

5.  Nocturne in blue & silver
A painting 'of moonlight on the sea [...] with a few fishing-boats pushing out from the shore' was described by W. M. Rossetti on 19 February 1876 as being 'lately completed', [W. M. Rossetti] 'Notes And News,' Academy, 1876, vol. 9, no. 198, p. 180]. This was probably Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Bognor (YMSM 100), which was bought by Alfred Chapman (1839-1917), engineer and collector [more], of Liverpool (c.f. Chapman's letter of 5 July 1876, #00576). A similar subject, Green and Grey: The Oyster Smacks, Evening (YMSM 99), has not been located, but the title suggests that it was not a Nocturne. JW also wrote from Speke Hall about his Nocturnes to Cyril Flower (#01621).

6.  Nocturnes
F. R. Leyland, suggested the term 'Nocturne', which JW first used at the 6th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1872 in November 1872. He exhibited Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Southampton Water (YMSM 117) as 'Nocturne in Grey and Gold' with Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 118) (cat. nos. 187, 237; see #08794). Extant Nocturnes vary from 27.9 x 46.4 cms (Nocturne: Westminster - Grey and Gold (YMSM 144)) to 68.5 x 135.5 cms (Cremorne Gardens, No. 2 (YMSM 164)). Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Bognor (YMSM 100), which may be the 'small picture' mentioned in this letter, is actually above the average size, at 50.3 x 86.2 cms. The 'two smaller Nocturnes' therefore might be any of a dozen or more known Nocturnes, or an equal number of untraced pictures. These possible candidates include two of the smallest Nocturnes, which may still have been in JW's studio, Nocturne: Westminster - Grey and Gold (YMSM 144) and the darkly atmospheric Nocturne: Grey and Silver (YMSM 156) which measured 27.9 x 46.4 cms, and 31.1 x 51.4 cms respectively.